That seems to answer the question about whether Americans will embrace computers in their cars to ease the doldrums of a daily commute and to use technology to make driving easier and safer. Of course, it’s open to debate as to whether car computers could actually distract drivers from driving. The announcement was made in advance of the keynote speech by Ford chief executive Alan Mulally on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show, the big tech show that kicks off on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Sync is a computer system that allows you to control your entertainment and communications in your car using your own voice commands. You can use it to make hands-free calls and switch music. Sync can automatically connect you with a 911 operator if you’re in a wreck where your air bag deploys. It can read aloud text messages, provide you with driving directions, and give you an update on vehicle maintenance needs. It uses voice recognition from Microsoft.
Ford first included Sync as a $395 option in its 2008 Ford Focus cars (launched in the fall of 2007). Today, Sync is available on all Ford and Lincoln cars, except those targeted for commercial or fleet use. Car buyers are opting to pay for Sync about 80 percent of the time on the newest car models. Ford says 80 percent of users recommend it to others, up 5 percent from a year ago.
The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on CES, said in a 2010 study that 55 percent of smartphone owners say they prefer voice commands as their primary means of communicating in a car.